World / Europe

Paris attacks suspect entered Syria on Jan 8 - Turkish minister

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-01-12 17:11

Paris attacks suspect entered Syria on Jan 8 - Turkish minister

A call for witnesses released by the Paris Prefecture de Police January 9, 2015 shows the photos of Hayat Boumeddiene (L) and Amedy Coulibaly, who are considered to be armed and dangerous, and are actively being sought in the shooting death of a woman police in Montrouge, near Paris, on Thursday. [Photo/Agencies]

ISTANBUL - The suspected female accomplice of Islamist militants behind attacks in Paris was in Turkey five days before the killings and crossed into Syria on Jan. 8, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited on Monday by the state-run Anatolian News Agency as saying.

French authorities launched a search for 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene after French anti-terrorist police killed her partner Amedy Coulibaly in storming a Jewish supermarket where he had taken hostages, describing her as armed and dangerous.

Anatolian, on its website, cited Cavusoglu as saying in an interview she arrived in Istanbul from Madrid on Jan. 2.

"There is footage (of her) at the airport. Later on, she stayed at a hotel with another person and crossed into Syria on January 8. We can tell that based on telephone records," he said.

Those dates would put Boumeddiene in Turkey before the violence in Paris began, and leaving for Syria while the attackers were still on the loose.

Coulibaly said he was carrying out the attack in the name of Islamic State, a militant Islamist group that has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Seventeen people, including journalists and policemen, were killed in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and ended with a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket on Friday. The three gunmen were also killed.

Cavusoglu said as soon as Turkey determined the whereabouts of Boumeddiene, it passed the information to French authorities.

An official French police photograph shows a young woman with long dark hair hitched back over her ears. French media, however, released photos purporting to be of a fully-veiled Boumeddiene, posing with a cross-bow, in what they said was a 2010 training session in the mountainous Cantal region.

French media described her as one of seven children whose mother died when she was young and and whose delivery-man father struggled to keep working while looking after the family. As an adult, she lost her job as a cashier when she coverted to Islam and started wearing the niqab.

World leaders including Muslim and Jewish statesmen linked arms on Sunday to lead more than a million French citizens through Paris to pay tribute to victims of the attacks.

Turkey received no request to deny access to Boumeddiene, Interior Minister Efkan Ala told reporters. "The entry of individuals to Turkey could be blocked based on information from the originating countries saying this person's entry could be problematic," Ala said.


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